Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE have withdrawn their ambassadors  from Qatar after alleging that it has been meddling in their internal affairs.

Qatar expressed its “regret and surprise” at the move, and said it would not withdraw its own envoys.

Tensions between the emirate and other Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) members have increased in recent years.

However, this is one of the most serious disputes yet within the grouping.

The joint statement said the three countries  had made “major efforts to convince Qatar” to implement a November 2013 agreement not to back “anyone threatening the security and stability of the GCC whether as groups or individuals-via direct security work or through political influence, and not to support hostile media”

“With the greatest regret” Qatar had failed to comply, the statement added, without going into specifics.

The recall of the ambassadors from Doha was therefore  necessary to ensure “security and stability”

A cabinet statement published by the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) expressed disappointment at the decision but said that it would not withdraw its ambassadors in response.

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